It’s easy to misunderstand the instructions.
The US Department of the Interior once conducted an experiment using migratory birds. The birds were tagged with metal strips reading "Wash. Biol. Surv."—for Washington Biological Survey. The code was changed, after a farmer from Arkansas wrote to the department: "Dear Sirs, I shot one of your crows. My wife followed the cooking instructions attached—she washed it, boiled it, and served it. It was the worst thing we ever ate."
Jesus gave us instructions that sound quite simple: Love one another
But, he did not want us to be confused
He gave clarification about his commands.
He illustrated how to live as he commands us to live.
First, let’s look at his command
Christ’s Command to Love is Clear
John 15:12 “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.”
John 15:17 “These things I command you, so that you will love one another.”
John 13:34-35 “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.””
“Love” is mentioned 28x in John 13-17
Why such an emphasis on love? The answer is found in two parts - God’s CHARACTER and our need to demonstrate our love for him. Both of these components are found in 1 John 4:7-8 “Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love.” (1 John 4:7–8, ESV)
Part one is that God is love. V. 7 “God is love”
Part two is that our love for God is demonstrated in how we love others v. 8 “anyone who does not love, does not know God.”
Tom Blackaby defined this component in the following way: “God has always connected our relationship toward those around us with our relationship with him” Tom Blackaby, “The Commands of Christ”
Christ’s Command to Love is easily misinterpreted
There is a difference between Worldly love and godly love.
Worldly love is primarily Emotional. It responds to kindness shown. It is primarily selfish in nature. Illus - the people helping the Apostle Paul. “For they all seek their own interests, not those of Jesus Christ.” Phil 2:21
On the other hand, godly love is focused on others. It is selfless
“Love does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful;” (1 Corinthians 13:5, ESV) (KJV “seeketh not its own”
Philippians 2:3 “Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves.”
God’s love is so unnatural, that even the most fundamental relationships have to be reminded to love!
Husbands reminded to love their wives. “Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her,” (Ephesians 5:25, ESV)
Wives to love their husbands and their children. “and so train the young women to love their husbands and children,” (Titus 2:4, ESV)
Love God, who has done so much for us!
Christ’s Command is Clearly Illustrated
By Further Commands
1) Love your enemies. “But I say to you who hear, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you.” (Luke 6:27–28, ESV)
2) Turn the other check. “To one who strikes you on the cheek, offer the other also, and from one who takes away your cloak do not withhold your tunic either. Give to everyone who begs from you, and from one who takes away your goods do not demand them back.” (Luke 6:29–30, ESV)
3) Surrender your prerogative of being right
4) Willingly accept financial loss when loving others requires it. 1 Corinthians 6 - not suing other Christians
5) Forgive without restriction. “Pay attention to yourselves! If your brother sins, rebuke him, and if he repents, forgive him, and if he sins against you seven times in the day, and turns to you seven times, saying, ‘I repent,’ you must forgive him.”” (Luke 17:3–4, ESV)
6) Go and be Reconciled.
Matt 5:23–24 “if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar and go. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift.”
Romans 12:18, ESV “If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all.”
7) Show mercy
Luke 10:36–37, ESV “Which of these three, do you think, proved to be a neighbor to the man who fell among the robbers?” He said, “The one who showed him mercy.” And Jesus said to him, “You go, and do likewise.””
Think of the parable of the good Samaritan. Mercy is most clearly demonstrated to the following
A. overlooked people
B. hated people
C. your enemies
D. people with nothing to give in return
E. people who are cultural outcasts
Luke 6:32–36 “If you love those who love you, what benefit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. And if you do good to those who do good to you, what benefit is that to you? For even sinners do the same. And if you lend to those from whom you expect to receive, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, to get back the same amount. But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return, and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, for he is kind to the ungrateful and the evil. Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful.”
By Christ’s Example. “but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8, ESV)
This kind of love is a witness to the world John 13:35, ESV“By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.””
Max Lucado tells the following story.
In 1921 Lewis Lawes took over as the warden of the famous Sing Sing prison.
She was a young mother of three daughters. Everybody warned her never to step foot inside the walls. But she didn’t listen to them. When the first prison basketball game was held, in she went, three girls in tow, and took a seat in the bleachers with the inmates.
When she heard that one convicted murderer was blind, she taught him Braille so he could read. Upon learning of inmates who were hearing impaired, she studied sign language so they could communicate. For sixteen years Catherine Lawes softened the hard hearts of the men of Sing Sing.
The prisoners knew something was wrong when Lewis Lawes didn’t report to work. Quickly the word spread that Catherine had been killed in a car accident. The following day as the acting warden took his early morning walk, he noticed a large gathering at the main gate. Every prisoner pressed against the fence. Eyes awash with tears. Faces solemn. No one spoke or moved.
The warden made a remarkable decision. "All right, men, you can go. Just be sure to check in tonight." These were America’s hardest criminals. But the warden unlocked the gate for them, and they walked without escort or guard to the home of Catherine Lawes to pay their last respects. And each one returned.
Don’t misinterpret the instructions.
Christ’s command to love means far more than occasional acts of kindness to people who like you or who can do something in return.
Christ’s love means surrender, death to self and compassion on the most needy.
Who are the most difficult in your life?
How do you think that Christ’s command to “love your enemies” applies to these people?
Are there people you automatically dislike because they are:
Ask God to allow you the opportunity to show Christ’s love in a way that requires God’s power at work in your life.